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  • Written by S.E. Hinton
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  • Written by S.E. Hinton
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Taming the Star Runner

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Synopsis

Synopsis

From the best-selling author of The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton's Taming the Star Runner explores loneliness and the need to belong, and the inevitability of change--universal struggles associated with coming-of-age. This edition includes a new and exclusive Author's Note.

Travis is the epitome of cool, especially when he's in trouble. But when he's sent to stay on his uncle's ranch, he finds that his tough attitude doesn't make him any friends, and his city survival skills are no match for the unforgiving land. He does find friendship of a sort with Casey, who runs a riding school. She's the bravest person Travis has ever met, and crazy enough to try to tame the Star Runner, her beautiful and dangerous horse, always on edge and about to explode--like Travis himself.

S.E. Hinton|Author Q&A

About S.E. Hinton

S.E. Hinton - Taming the Star Runner
“If you want to be a writer, I have two pieces of advice. One is to be a reader. I think that’s one of the most important parts of learning to write. The other piece of advice is ‘Just do it!’ Don’t think about it, don’t agonize, sit down and write.”—S. E. Hinton

S. E. Hinton is the recipient of the American Library Association’s first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors authors “whose books have provided young adults with a window through which they can view their world and which will help them to grow and to understand themselves and their role in society.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


By the time she was 17 years old, Susan Eloise Hinton was a published author. While still in high school in her hometown—Tulsa, Oklahoma—Hinton put in words what she saw and felt growing up and called it The Outsiders, a now classic story of two sets of high school rivals, the Greasers and the Socs (for society kids). Because her hero was a Greaser and outsider, and her tale was one of gritty realism, Hinton launched a revolution in young adult literature.

Since her narrator was a boy, Hinton's publishers suggested that she publish under the name of S. E. Hinton; they feared their readers wouldn't respect a “macho” story written by a woman. Hinton says today, “I don't mind having two identities; in fact, I like keeping the writer part separate in some ways. And since my alter ego is clearly a 15-year-old boy, having an authorial self that doesn't suggest a gender is just fine with me.”

Today, more than twenty-five years after its first publication, The Outsiders ranks as a classic, still widely read and one of the most important and taboo-breaking books in the field. Finally, someone was writing about the real concerns and emotions of a teenager. The Outsiders marked the beginning of a new kind of realism in books written for the young adult market, and Hinton's next four books followed suit.

She wrote her second book while she was in college at the University of Tulsa, studying to be a teacher. “I don't have the nerve or physical stamina to teach,” she says. “I did my student teaching, but I couldn't leave the kids and their problems behind me; I'd go home and worry about them. I think people who are good teachers do one of the most important jobs there is; I can't praise them highly enough.”

David Inhofe, who is now her husband, was her boyfriend then and was instrumental in helping her get her second book written. Hinton was suffering from writer's block. Inhofe refused to go out with her at night unless she wrote two pages during the day, and slowly but steadily over four months, she compiled the manuscript that became That Was Then, This Is Now, a story of drugs, delinquency, and a tough kid making a tough decision. She and David were married in 1970; the second book was published in 1971.

Her third book, Rumble Fish, was published in 1975. Hinton was inspired to write it by a magazine photo she had saved since 1967, of a boy on a motorcycle. Tex followed, and drew the attention of Walt Disney Studios. In 1982, Disney's movie version, starring Matt Dillon, was released. Dillon later starred in movies of The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, and he and Hinton have become friends over the years.

In 1985, Paramount Pictures released That Was Then, This Is Now and Fox Television adapted The Outsiders for a television series. Taming the Star Runner, Hinton's fifth book, was a departure for her. “For the first time, I told the story in the third person. My son, Nick, was then four, and I was so involved with him that I didn't have the emotional space to become a completely other person.”

After Taming the Star Runner, Hinton took a seven-year break. She was busy with Nick, and she says, “I couldn't think of a single thing to say. I didn’t have a writer’s block—I was writing plenty: screenplays for my novels, television scripts, advertisements. I simply didn't have a story I wanted to tell.”

When she found a story, it was directly from her life. Big David, Little David is a hilarious picture book about a joke she and her husband played on Nick when he was entering kindergarten. On his first day at school, little Nick meets a boy who, like Nick's father, has dark hair, glasses, and is named David. “He's not you, is he?” Nick asks his father. “Oh, yes, that's me,” Big David says. A rollicking tale of confused identity follows.

No more outsiders, no more tough boys, but Big David, Little David shares with all of Hinton’s work a deeply autobiographical thread.

“The Puppy Sister is actually the most autobiographical of all of my books,” she says. “Nick is an only child and was not an animal person. He was a little bit afraid of dogs, but I was determined to get him a puppy so he could connect and share attention in the family. We got our puppy when Nick was eight, and there was so much sibling rivalry between the two that he once accused me of loving the dog more than I loved him. `Honey,’ I told him, `it's not true. I love you more: you’re housebroken.’” Hinton knew the story of puppy-boy rivalry was a good one, but she needed a hook. Nick provided it. One day the three of them came home from a walk and Nick said to his mother, “I wonder when she will turn into a person.” And The Puppy Sister was born.

When Hinton’s not writing, she rides her horse, takes courses at the university, and is involved in Nick's school. “I’m not any one thing, and that's a reason I don't mind having a separate identity for my writing. I’m an author, but I'm also a mother, a friend, a horseback rider, a decent cook. Being involved domestically keeps me in touch with reality.”


S. E. Hinton on Becoming a Writer

Q. What made you decide to become a writer?

I loved reading and I loved writing. I was really focused, and writing is easy for me because I never write unless I have something to say.

Q. How do you begin to write your books?

I always begin with a character in mind and an ending I want to get to. I like my characters to grow, to show some change. So I know that in the middle of the book I'll have to figure out how to make the change happen. The middle is the hardest part for me.

Q. How did you get your first book published?

I showed the manuscript of The Outsiders to a friend whose mother was an author. She liked it and gave it to a friend who was also a writer and who had an agent. The agent liked it and sold it to the second publisher who read it. I'd never even heard of agents at 17, and I still have that first agent.

Q. What do you like to read that influences your writing?

As a kid, I loved animal stories, particularly horse stories. I was one of those little girls who felt like she was one with a horse. Today I read biographies a lot because they are about character, and character is what drives my novels. I also enjoy Jane Austen—character is her main concern—and I'm a history buff. I think if you want to learn to write better, you need to read better.

Q. Do you have any particular writing habits?

I don't really; I keep changing my methods, working around other things in my life. That Was Then, This is Now was written in the
two-pages-a-day method. Rumble Fish was written on Thursday nights, because that was when my husband played poker. My fourth book, Tex, took me the longest to write. I plotted it for three and a half years. I wrote Taming the Star Runner on a schedule, because 3 days a week Nick was in preschool, and those were my writing days. I guess my one technique throughout is to be flexible about time and seize it when I can.

Q. Do you discuss your books as you write them, or does anyone read your work in progress?

No, not really. My husband's great. He'll say, "That's nice, honey," in a vague, non-interfering sort of way. And I did let Nick read The Puppy Sister when it was in manuscript, because he had so much to do with it. It's about him; he suggested the idea. I'm thinking about a new book now, but I don't like to talk about things until they're done. I'm afraid I'll wear out my idea.

Q. Do you have any advice for those who want to write?

If you want to be a writer, I have two pieces of advice. One is to be a reader. I think that's one of the most important parts of learning to write. The other piece of advice is: Just do it! Don't think about it, don't agonize, sit down and write.

Q. Any more advice for the budding writer?

Yes—do the best you possibly can. Write, write, write, and read, read, read!


Author Fun Facts

Born: July 22, in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Education: BS University of Tulsa

Previous jobs: As a teenager I worked in a bookstore and ran an elevator, but I started making a living writing fiction at a fairly young age.

Hobbies: Horseback riding (jumping and dressage), history, and paranormal studies

Inspiration for writing: I started to love writing in grade school, which was inspired by my love of reading. Sometimes that’s the only thing that keeps you going, remembering that you really did love it (and mostly still do.)



PRAISE

THE PUPPY SISTER
“With this whimsical animal story, Hinton serves up an entry as memorable in its genre as her classic The Outsiders is in YA literature.”—Starred, Publishers Weekly

RUMBLE FISH

—An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
—A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year

“Stylistically superb . . . this packs a punch that will leave readers of any age reeling.”—School Library Journal

TAMING THE STAR RUNNER

—An ALA Best Book for Young Adults

“[This book] has depth, pattern, perception, and a communicable empathy for its protagonist.”—The Bulletin

TEX

—An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
—A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
—A Booklist Editors’ Choice

“Hinton socks home a powerful punch.”—Starred, School Library Journal

Author Q&A

By the time she was 17 years old, Susan Eloise Hinton was a published author. While still in high school in her hometown--Tulsa, Oklahoma--Hinton put in words what she saw and felt growing up and called it The Outsiders, a now classic story of two sets of high school rivals, the Greasers and the Socs (for society kids). Because her hero was a Greaser and outsider, and her tale was one of gritty realism, Hinton launched a revolution in young adult literature.

Since her narrator was a boy, Hinton's publishers suggested that she publish under the name of S. E. Hinton; they feared their readers wouldn't respect a "macho" story written by a woman. Hinton says today, "I don't mind having two identities; in fact, I like keeping the writer part separate in some ways. And since my alter ego is clearly a 15-year-old boy, having an authorial self that doesn't suggest a gender is just fine with me."

Today, more than twenty-five years after its first publication, The Outsiders ranks as a classic, still widely read and one of the most important and taboo-breaking books in the field. Finally, someone was writing about the real concerns and emotions of a teenager. The Outsiders marked the beginning of a new kind of realism in books written for the young adult market, and Hinton's next four books followed suit.

She wrote her second book while she was in college at the University of Tulsa, studying to be a teacher. But "I don't have the nerve or physical stamina to teach," she says. "I did my student teaching, but I couldn't leave the kids and their problems behind me; I'd go home and worry about them. I think people who are good teachers do one of the most important jobs there is; I can't praise them highly enough."

David Inhofe, who is now her husband, was her boyfriend then and was instrumental in helping her get her second book written. Hinton was suffering from writer's block. Inhofe refused to go out with her at night unless she wrote two pages during the day, and slowly but steadily over four months, she compiled the manuscript that became That Was Then, This is Now, a story of drugs, delinquency, and ata tough kid making a tough decision. She and David were married in 1970; the second book was published in 1971.

Her third book, Rumble Fish, was published in 1975. Hinton was inspired to write it by a magazine photo she had saved since 1967, of a boy on a motorcycle. Tex followed, and drew the attention of Walt Disney Studios. In 1982, Disney's movie version, starring Matt Dillon, was released. Dillon later starred in movies of The Outsiders and Rumble Fish, and he and Hinton have become friends over the years.
In 1985, Paramount Pictures released That Was Then, This is Now and Fox Television adapted The Outsiders for a television series. Taming the Star Runner, Hinton's fifth book, was a departure for her. "For the first time, I told the story in the third person. My son, Nick, was then four, and I was so involved with him that I didn't have the emotional space to become a completely other person."

After Taming the Star Runner, Hinton took a seven-year break. She was busy with Nick, and she says, "I couldn't think of a single thing to say. I didn't have a writer's block--I was writing plenty: screenplays for my novels, television scripts, advertisements. I simply didn't have a story I wanted to tell."

When she found a story, it was directly from her life. Big David, Little David is a hilarious picture book about a joke she and her husband played on Nick when he was entering kindergarten. On his first day at school, little Nick meets a boy who, like Nick's father, has dark hair, glasses, and is named David. "He's not you, is he?" Nick asks his father. "Oh, yes, that's me," Big David says. A rollicking tale of confused identity follows.

No more outsiders, no more tough boys, but Big David, Little David shares with all of Hinton's work a deeply autobiographical thread.
"The Puppy Sister is actually the most autobiographical of all of my books," she says. "Nick is an only child and was not an animal person. He was a little bit afraid of dogs, but I was determined to get him a puppy so he could connect and share attention in the family. We got our puppy when Nick was eight, and there was so much sibling rivalry between the two that he once accused me of loving the dog more than I loved him. `Honey,' I told him, `it's not true. I love you more: you're housebroken.' " Hinton knew the story of puppy-boy rivalry was a good one, but she needed a hook. Nick provided it. One day the three of them came home from a walk and Nick said to his mother, "I wonder when she will turn into a person." And The Puppy Sister was born.

When Hinton's not writing, she rides her horse, takes courses at the university, and is involved in Nick's school. "I'm not any one thing, and that's a reason I don't mind having a separate identity for my writing. "I'm an author, but I'm also a mother, a friend, a horseback rider, a decent cook. Being involved domestically keeps me in touch with reality."

S. E. Hinton is the recipient of the American Library Association's and School Library Journal's first annual Margaret A. Edwards Award,
which honors authors whose "book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young people as an authentic voice that
continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives."

S. E. Hinton on Becoming a Writer

Q. What made you decide to become a writer?
I loved reading and I loved writing. I was really focused, and writing is easy for me because I never write unless I have something to say.

Q. How do you begin to write your books?
I always begin with a character in mind and an ending I want to get to. I like my characters to grow, to show some change. So I know that in
the middle of the book I'll have to figure out how to make the change happen. The middle is the hardest part for me.

Q. How did you get your first book published?
I showed the manuscript of The Outsiders to a friend whose mother was an author. She liked it and gave it to a friend who was also a
writer and who had an agent. The agent liked it and sold it to the second publisher who read it. I'd never even heard of agents at 17,
and I still have that first agent.

Q. What do you like to read that influences your writing?
As a kid, I loved animal stories, particularly horse stories. I was one of those little girls who felt like she was one with a horse. Today I
read biographies a lot because they are about character, and character is what drives my novels. I also enjoy Jane Austen--character is her main concern--and I'm a history buff. I think if you want to learn to write better, you need to read better.

Q. Do you have any particular writing habits?
I don't really; I keep changing my methods, working around other things in my life. That Was Then, This is Now was written in the
two-pages-a-day method. Rumble Fish was written on Thursday nights, because that was when my husband played poker. My fourth
book, Tex, took me the longest to write. I plotted it for three and a half years. I wrote Taming the Star Runner on a schedule, because
3 days a week Nick was in preschool, and those were my writing days. I guess my one technique throughout is to be flexible about time
and seize it when I can.

Q. Do you discuss your books as you write them, or does anyone read your work in progress?
No, not really. My husband's great. He'll say, "That's nice, honey," in a vague, non-interfering sort of way. And I did let Nick read The
Puppy Sister when it was in manuscript, because he had so much to do with it. It's about him; he suggested the idea. I'm thinking about a
new book now, but I don't like to talk about things until they're done. I'm afraid I'll wear out my idea.

Q. Do you have any advice for those who want to write?
If you want to be a writer, I have two pieces of advice. One is to be a reader. I think that's one of the most important parts of learning to
write. The other piece of advice is: Just do it! Don't think about it, don't agonize, sit down and write."

Q. Any more advice for the budding writer?
Yes--do the best you possibly can. Write, write, write, and read, read, read!

author fun facts
Born: July 22, in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Education: BS University of Tulsa

Currently lives: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Previous jobs: As a teenager I worked in a bookstore and ran an elevator, but I started making a living writing fiction at a fairly young age.

Hobbies: Horseback riding (jumping and dressage), history, and paranormal studies

Inspiration for writing: I started to love writing in grade school, which was inspired by my love of reading. Sometimes that’s the only thing that keeps you going, remembering that you really did love it (and mostly still do.)

Awards

Awards

NOMINEE 1990 Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



ABOUT THIS BOOK

Travis is the epitome of cool, even when he's in trouble. But when he's sent to stay with his uncle on a ranch in the country, he finds that his schoolmates don't like his tough city ways. He does find friendship of a sort with Casey, who runs a riding school at the ranch. She's the bravest person Travis has ever met, and crazy enough to try to tame the Star Runner, her beautiful, dangerous horse who's always on edge, about to explode. It's clear to Travis that he and the Star Runner are two of a kind: creatures not meant to be tamed.
The following books are also discussed in this guide:
Rumble Fish
Rusty-James is the toughest guy in the group of high-school kids who hang out and shoot pool down at Benny's, and he enjoys keeping up his reputation. What he wants most of all is to be just like his older brother, the Motorcycle Boy. He wants to stay calm and laughing when things get dangerous, to be the toughest street fighter and the most respected guy on their side of the river. Rusty-James isn't book-smart, and he knows it. He relies on his fists instead of his brains. Until now he's gotten along all right, because whenever he gets into trouble, the Motorcycle Boy bails him out. But Rusty-James' drive to be like his brother eats away at his world--until it all comes apart in an explosive chain of events. And this time the Motorcycle Boy isn't around to pick up the pieces.
Tex
Easygoing, thoughtless, and direct, Tex at fifteen likes everyone and everything, especially his horse, Negrito, and Johnny Collins' blue-eyed sister, Jamie. He thinks life with his seventeen-year-old brother, Mason, in their ramshackle house would be just about perfect if only Mace would stop complaining about Pop. Pop hasn't been home in five months. Mace wants to get out of Oklahoma. Tex just seems to attract trouble and danger...suddenly everything's falling apart. Can Tex keep it all together?

TEACHING IDEAS

Using the Young Adult Novels of S. E. Hinton in the Classroom

Pre-Reading Activity


Encourage students to interview a parent or adult who grew up during the 1960s and 70s. Suggest they ask about music, current events, fashions, pastimes, popular books, magazines, TV shows, movie stars, etc., during those decades. Instruct students to web their information with the central topic being the decade and the branches being the various elements they discussed with the adult. Students may illustrate their webs with symbols, pictures, or words. Have students share their webs with the class.

Thematic Connections

Acceptance -- Mark says to Bryon in That Was Then, This Is Now, "You can't walk through your whole life saying `If.' You can't keep trying to figure out why things happen, man. That's what old people do. That's when you can't get away with things any more." (page 111) How is this statement related to the title That Was Then, This Is Now? What is the irony in this statement? Do you agree with this statement? Why? Why not? Name some characters who would agree with Mark and some characters who would agree with Bryon. What do the Mark-like characters have in common? What do the Bryon-like characters have in common?

Self-Esteem -- In Rumble Fish, Rusty-James says of himself, "I'm always in dumb classes." (page 39) What does being in the "dumb classes" do for Rusty-James' self-confidence? What role does education play in the lives of other Hinton characters such as Darry (The Outsiders) and Mason (Tex)? What influence do reading and writing have on the lives of Hinton's characters? Do you think students know when they are in the "dumb classes"? Is this separation needed? Why? Why not? If not, what alternatives do you suggest?

Family and Relationships -- In Tex, Tex states, "Cole Collins scared me a little. Not `cause he was big or rich or vice-president of a company. He just plain didn't act like I thought fathers were supposed to act." (page 52) Compare and contrast Pop as a father with Cole Collins as a father. What might be considered conventional and unconventional about the way each fulfills his role as a father? What part do adults play in Hinton's novels? Can you pick a male adult from any of Hinton's novels who might, in Tex's eyes, act like fathers are supposed to act?

Self-Discovery -- When Tex goes to the fortune teller, she predicts "`There are people who go, people who stay. You will stay.'"(page 35) What do you think the fortune teller meant by this statement? Do you think the fortune teller would have predicted Mason, Pop, and Lem would stay or go? Ask students to choose a main character from another Hinton novel and to predict that character's future. Can anyone really foresee the future? Does a person's future always reflect his/her past? Explain your answer.

Interdisciplinary Connections

Language Arts -- In Taming the Star Runner, Travis remembers his publisher praising his book: "But the narrative flowed, there was a strong sense of place, and his characters--well, his characters were wonderfully realized human beings, everyone would come away from this book convinced that these people really existed." (page 113) Have students choose the Hinton book that they think best merits this description of a novel. Ask students to write a review of the novel, giving examples of the strong sense of place, etc. Have students share their reviews with the class.

In Taming the Star Runner, Travis's publisher says of his novel, "`That point aside, we still have a few problems--no major girl characters, for instance, and the majority of book buyers your age are girls.'" Travis responds, "`I don't know what girls do, so I don't write about them. And that junk they like to read makes me barf.'" (page 111) What is the irony in Travis's reply to his publisher? Does Hinton write convincingly from the male perspective? What "junk" do you think Travis is referring to? Conduct a poll in your classroom. Are the majority of the book buyers girls? What are the differences and similarities in what the male and female students like to read? Do males and females view Hinton's novels differently? How does Hinton portray females in her novels? Consider Casey (Taming the Star Runner), Jamie (Tex) Cassandra (Rumble Fish).

As Rusty-James remembers a trip to the zoo with his father, he remarks, "The animals reminded me of people." (Rumble Fish, page 13) Hinton often compares her characters to animals. Ask students to find examples of these comparisons in her novels. How do these comparisons help readers better understand the characters? Have students choose other characters from the novels and discuss their character traits. To what animal could each be compared and why? Instruct students to write a poem about one of these characters using the animal metaphor. Have students illustrate their poems and share them with the class.

History -- Gangs play an important role in the novels of S. E. Hinton. Research the influence of gangs in the 1960s compared with the influence of gangs in the '90s. Which decade witnessed more gang violence? Why is this so? Experts say that kids often join gangs because of needs in their lives. What are some of those needs?

In Taming the Star Runner, the reader learns that Travis's father was killed in Vietnam two months before Travis was born. Many people visit the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., and leave special items in memory of soldiers who were killed in that war. Ask students to find out the kinds of items that people leave. Ask them to design a memorial that Travis might have designed for his father. Encourage them to find a meaningful quote to place on the memorial.

Psychology -- In Rumble Fish, Rusty-James does not like to be alone. This is his greatest fear. The Motorcycle Boy says Rusty-James' fear can be traced back to when he was two years old and was left alone in his house for two days. Have groups of students research the various stages of child development. What important behavioral and psychological progressions occur at each stage? How could something that happens to a child at the age of two affect him so profoundly later on in life?

Science (Technology) -- In her novels, Hinton refers to technological products such as 8-track tape players. Using reference materials, compare and contrast the technology of the '60s and '70s with that of the '90s. Locate pictures of items developed during each of those decades. Make a poster which has a column for Then and another for Now. Place each illustration in the appropriate column. Display your poster and discuss the changes they reflect.

Vocabulary/Use of Language

As students read the Hinton novels, direct them to keep a list of slang words and expressions in the books. Ask them to brainstorm some current slang expressions and to share them with the class. Ask them to compare the slang meaning with the true meaning of the words. Have students write and illustrate a 1960s-'70s Illustrated Slang Dictionary. Compare and contrast the slang words of the '60s and '70s with slang from today.


Teaching Ideas prepared by Jane O. Wassynger, English Teacher, Greenville Middle School, Greenville, SC.



FURTHER READING

The Girl Who Owned A City by O.T. Nelson[0-440-92893-1]
Hoops by Walter Dean Myers[0-440-93884-8]
Motown and Didi by Walter Dean Myers[0-440-95762-1]
The War Between the Classes by Gloria Miklowitz[0-440-99406-3]


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